I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
~ Psalm 2:7
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
~ Exodus 25:22, Hebrews 9:5
And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded.
~ Exodus 29:36-37, Leviticus 8:2, Numbers 16:46-48, Leviticus 9:7
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
~ Genesis 14:18-19, Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 8:3
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
~ John 17:1, Isaiah 50:5-6, Psalm 22:1-2, Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:11
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
~ Hebrews 10:5-9, Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 10:11
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
~ Romans 8:3
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
~ Hebrews 9:7, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 2:17
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
~ Hebrews 3:6, Ephesians 2:18
The Holiest of All, by Andrew Murray. Chapters Thirty-Six through Thirty-Nine.
Chapter XXXVl. Let Us Draw Near With Boldness.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.1
~ Hebrews 4:16
In the first two chapters the true divinity and the real humanity of our Saviour were set before us, as the very foundation of our faith and life. ln the two verses we have just been considering these two truths are applied to the priesthood of Christ. Having a great High Priest who hath passed through the heavens; having an High Priest who is able to sympathise; let us draw near. The one work of the High Priest is to bring us near to God. The one object of revealing to us His person and work is to give us perfect confidence in drawing near. The measure of our nearness of access to God is the index of our knowledge of Jesus.
Let us therefore, with such an High Priest, draw near with boldness to the throne of grace. The word, draw near, is that used of the priests in the Old Testament. lt is this one truth the Epistle seeks to enforce, that we can actually, in spiritual reality, draw near to God, and live in that nearness, in living fellowship with Him, all the day. The work of Christ, as our High Priest, is so perfect, and His power in heaven so divine, that He not only gives us the right and liberty to draw
1 For timely help.
nigh, but by His priestly action He does in very deed and truth, so take possession of our inmost being and inward life, and draw and bring us nigh, that our life can be lived in God’s presence.
Let us draw near. The expression occurs twice; here and x. 21. The repetition is significant. ln the second passage, after the deeper truths of the true sanctuary, and the rent veil, and the opening of the Holiest, have been expounded, it refers to the believer’s entrance into the full blessing of a life spent in the power of Christ’s heavenly priesthood, in the presence of God. Here, where all this teaching has not yet been given, it is applied more simply to prayer, to the drawing nigh to the throne of grace, in a sense which the feeblest believer can understand it . lt is as we are faithful in the lesser, the tarrying before the throne of grace in prayer, that we shall find access to the greater—the life within the veil, in the full power of the Forerunner who hath entered there for us.
Let us draw near, that we may receive mercy. This has reference to that compassion which we need when the sense of sin and guilt and unworthiness depress us. In drawing nigh to the throne of grace, to the mercy-seat, in prayer, we first receive mercy, we experience that God pardons and accepts and loves. And we find grace for timely help. This refers to that strengthening of the inner life by which He, who was tempted in all things like as we, meets us and enables us to conquer temptation. Grace is the divine strength working in us. “My grace is sufficient for thee; my power is made perfect in weakness.” The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of grace.” The believing supplicant at the throne of grace not only receives mercy, the consciousness of acceptance and favour, but finds grace, in that Spirit whose operation the Father always delights to bestow. And that grace is for timely help, lit. “well-timed help,” just the special help we need at each moment. The infinite mercy of God’s love resting on us, and the almighty grace of His Spirit working in us, will ever be found at a throne of grace, if we but come boldly, trusting in Jesus alone.
And now comes the chief word, ” Let us therefore draw near with boldness.” We have already been taught to hold fast our boldness. We shall later on be warned, cast not away your boldness. And the summing up of the Epistle will tell us that the great fruit of Christ’s redemption is that we have boldness to enter in. It is the expression of the highest form of confidence, in the unhesitating assurance that there is nothing that can hinder, and in a conduct that corresponds to this conviction. lt suggests the thought of our drawing nigh to God’s throne without fear, without doubt, with no other feeling but that of the childlike liberty which a child feels in speaking to its father.
This boldness is what the blood of Christ, in its infinite worth, has secured for us, and what His heavenly priesthood works and maintains in us. This boldness is the natural and necessary result of the adoring and believing gaze fixed on our great High Priest upon the throne. This boldness is what the Holy Spirit works in us as the inward participation in Christ’s entrance into the Father’s presence. This boldness is of the essence of a healthy Christian life. lf there is one thing the Christian should care for and aim at, it is to maintain unbroken and unclouded the living conviction and practice of this drawing mar with boldness.
Let us, therefore, draw near with boldness! Jesus the Son God is our High Priest. Our boldness of access is not a state we produce in ourselves by meditation or effort. No, the living, loving High Priest, who is able to sympathise and gives grace for timely help, He breathes and works this boldness in the soul that is willing to lose itself in Him. Jesus, found and felt within our heart by faith, is our boldness. As the Son, whose house we are, He will dwell within us, and by His Spirit’s working, Himself be our boldness and our entrance to the Father. Let us, therefore, draw near with boldness!
1. Do take hold of the thought that the whole teaching of the Epistle centres in this, that we should so be partakers of Christ and all He is, should so have Him as our High Priest, that we mag with perfect boldness, with the most undoubting confidence enter into, and dwell in, and enjoy the Father’s presence. lt is in the heart that we partake of and have Christ: it is Christ, known as dwelling in the heart, that will make our boldness perfect.
2. Each time you pray, exercise this boldness. Let the measure of Jesus’ merit, yea more, let the measure of Jesus’ power to work in you and lead you on to God, be the measure of your boldness.
3. What tenderness of conscience, what care, what jealousy, what humility, this boldness will work, lest we allow anything for which our heart can condemn us, and we so lose our liberty before God. Then it will truly be our experience. So near, so very near to God, more near l cannot be.
Chapter XXXVll. The High Priest Bearing Gently With The Ignorant.
For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
~ Hebrews 3:1-3
We know how much the Epistle has already said of the true humanity and sympathy of the Lord Jesus. In chap. ii. we read: It became God to perfect Him through suffering; Since the children are sharers of flesh and blood, He also in like manner partook of the same. It behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. In that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. And in chap. iv. we have just heard, We have not a high priest who is not able to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who hath in all things been tempted like as we are. And yet the truth is counted of such importance, that once again our attention is directed to it. lt is not enough that we have a general conviction of its truth, but we need to have it taken up into our heart and life, until every thought of Jesus is interpenetrated by such a feeling of His sympathy, that all sense of weakness shall
at once be met by the joyful consciousness that all is well, because Jesus is so very kind, and cares so lovingly for all our feebleness and all our ignorance.
Let us listen once again to what the word teaches. Every high priest being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that He may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. Here we have the work of a high priest, and the first essential requisite for that work. His work is in things pertaining to God: he has charge of all that concerns the access to God, His worship and service, and has, for this, to offer gifts and sacrifices. And the requisite is, he must be a man, because he is to act for men. And that for this great reason that he may be one who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring, for that he himself also is compassed with weakness; and who by reason thereof is bound, as for the people, so also for himself to offer for sins. At the root of the priestly office there is to be the sense of perfect oneness in weakness and need of help. In priestly action this is to manifest itself in sacrificing, as for the people, so for himself. And all this, that the priestly spirit may ever be kept alive for the comfort and confidence of all the needy and weary—he must be one who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring.
Glory be to God for the wondrous picture of what our Lord Jesus is. A priest must be God’s representative with men. But he cannot be this, without being himself a man himself encompassed with weaknesses, and so identified with and representing men with God. This was why Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. The high priest is to offer as for the people, so for himself. Offering for himself was to be the bond of union with the people. Even so our blessed Lord Jesus offered (see ver. 7), prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, yea, in all that, offered Himself unto God. And all this, that He might win our hearts and confidence as one who can hear gently with the ignorant and erring. God has indeed done everything to assure us that, with such an High Priest, no ignorance or error need make us afraid of not finding the way to Him and His love. Jesus will care for us—
He bears gently with the ignorant and erring. Have we not, in our faith in the priesthood of Christ, been too much in the habit of looking more at His work than at His heart? Have we not too exclusively put the thought of our sins in the foreground, and not sufficiently realised that our weaknesses, our ignorance and errors—that for these too a special provision has been made in Him who was made like us, and Himself encompassed with weaknesses, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring. Oh, let us take in and avail ourselves to the full of the wondrous message: Jesus could not ascend the throne as Priest, until He had first, in the school of personal experience, learnt to sympathise and to bear gently with the feeblest. And let our weakness and ignorance henceforth, instead of discouraging and keeping us back, be the motive and the plea which lead us to come boldly to Him for help, who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring. ln the pursuit of holiness our ignorance is often our greatest source of failure.
We cannot fully understand what is taught of the rest of God, and the power of faith, of dwelling within the veil or of Christ dwelling in our heart. Things appear too high for us, utterly beyond our reach. lf we but knew to trust Jesus, not only as He who made propitiation for our sins, but as one who has been specially chosen and trained and prepared, and then elevated to the throne of God, to be the Leader of the ignorant and erring, bearing gently with their every weakness! Let us this day afresh accept this Saviour, as God has here revealed Him to us, and rejoice that all our ignorance need not be a barrier in the way to God, because Jesus takes it into His care.
1. Oh the trouble God has taken to win our poor hearts to trust and confidence. Let us accept the revelation, and have our hearts so filled with the sympathy and gentleness of Jesus, that in every perplexity our first thought shall always be the certainty and the blessedness of His compassion and help.
2. How many souls there are who mourn over their sins, and do not think that they are making their sins more and stronger by not going with all their ignorance and weakness boldly to Jesus.
3. Do learn the lesson, the whole priesthood of Jesus has but this one object, to lead thee boldly and joyfully to draw near to God, and live in fellowship with Him. With this view, trust Jesus as definitely with thy ignorance and weakness as with thy sins.
Chapter XXXVlII. The High Priest, Called Of God.
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
~ Hebrews 5:4-6
A priest sustains a twofold relationship—to God and to man. Every high priest is appointed for men in things pertaining to God. We have just seen what the great characteristic is of his relation to men: he must himself be a man, like them and one with them, with a heart full of gentleness and sympathy for the very weakest. In his relation to God, our Epistle now proceeds to say, the chief requirement is that he should have his appointment from God. He must not take the honour to himself: he must be called of God. All this is proved to be true of Jesus.
The truth that Jesus had His appointment from God was not only of importance to the Hebrews to convince them of the divine and supreme right of Christianity; it is of equal interest to us, to give us an insight into that which constitutes the real glory and power of our religion. Our faith needs to be fed and strengthened, and this can only be as we enter more deeply into the divine origin and nature of redemption.
No man taketh the honour unto himself, but when he is called of God. It is God against whom we have sinned, in separation from whom we are fallen into the power of death. lt is God we need; it is to Him and His love the way must be opened. It is God alone, who can say what that way is, who is able to have it opened up. And this now is what gives the gospel, and our faith in Christ, its security and sufficiency—that it is all of God. Christ has been called of God to be High Priest. The very God who created us, against whom we sinned, gives His Son as our Redeemer.
So Christ also glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest, but He that spake unto Him, Thou art My Son, this day I have begotten thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Here it is not merely the fact that Christ was called of God to be High Priest, but the ground upon which He was chosen, that we must specially notice. The two passages quoted teach us that it was as Son of God that He was appointed High Priest. This opens up to us the true nature and character of the priesthood. lt shows us that the priesthood is rooted in the sonship: the work of the priesthood is to reveal and communicate the blessed life of sonship.
As Son, Christ alone was heir of all that God had. All the life of the Father was in Him. God could have no union or fellowship with any creature but through His beloved Son, or as far as the life and spirit and image of the Son was seen in it. Therefore no one could be our High Priest but the Son of God. If our salvation was not to be a merely legal one— external and, l may say, artificial—but an entrance anew into the very life of God, with the restoration of the divine nature we had lost in paradise, it was the Son of God alone who could impart this to us. He had the life of God to give; He was able to give it; He could only give it by taking us into living fellowship with Himself. The priesthood of Christ is the God-devised channel through which the ever-blessed Son could make us partakers of Himself, and with Himself of all the life and glory He hath from and in the Father.
And this now is our confidence and safety—that it was the Father who appointed the Son High Priest. lt is the love of the God against whom we had sinned that gave the Son. It is the will and the power of this God that ordained and worked out the great salvation. lt is in God Himself our salvation has its origin, its life, its power. lt is God drawing nigh to communicate Himself to us in His Son.
Christ glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest: it was God gave Him this glory. Just think what this means. God counts it an honour for His Son to be the Priest of poor sinners. Jesus gave up His everlasting glory for the sake of this new, which He now counts His highest, glory—the honour of leading guilty men to God. Every cry of a penitent for mercy, every prayer of a ransomed soul for more grace and nearer access to God, He counts these His highest honour, the proofs of a glory He has received from His Father above the glory of sonship, or rather the opening up of the fulness of glory which His sonship contained.
O thou doubting troubled soul! wilt thou not now believe this: that Jesus counts it His highest honour to do His work in any needy one that turns to Him? The Son of God in His glory counts His priesthood His highest glory, as the power of making us partake as brethren with Him in the life and love of the Father. Do let Jesus now become thy confidence. Be assured that nothing delights Jesus more than to do His work. Do thou what God hath done; glorify Him as thy High Priest; and, as thou learnest to turn from thyself and all human help, to trust the Son of God, He will prove to thee what a great High Priest He is; He will, as Son, lead thee into the life and love of the Father.
1. Could God have bestowed a more wondrous grace upon us than this, to give His own Son as our High Priest? Could He have given us a surer ground of faith and hope than this, that the Son is Priest? And shall we not trust Him ? and give Him the honour God has given Him?
2. What is needed is that we occupy and exercise our faith in appropriating this blessed truth: Jesus is the eternal Son, appointed by the Father as our Priest to introduce us into His presence, and to keep us there. He was Himself so compassed with weaknesses and tried with temptations, that no lgnorance or weakness on our part can weary Him, or prevent Him doing His blessed work—if we will only trust Him. Oh, let us worship and honour Him. Let us trust Him. Let our faith claim all He is able and willing to do—our God-appointed High Priest.
3. Faith opens the heart—through faith this divine Being fills, pervades, the whole heart, dwells in it. He cannot bring thee nigh to God except as He brings thy heart nigh. He cannot bring thy heart nigh except as He dwells in lt. He cannot dwell in lt except as thou believest. Oh consider Jesus, until thy whole heart is faith in Him and what He is in thee.
Chapter XXXlX. The High Priest Learning Obedience.
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
~ Hebrews 5:7-8
We have already noticed with what persistence the writer has sought to impress upon us the intense reality of Christ’s humanity—His being made like unto His brethren, His partaking of flesh and blood in like manner as ourselves, His being tempted in all things like as we are. ln the opening verses of our chapter he has again set before us the true High Priest—Himself compassed with weaknesses. He now once more returns to the subject. In ver. 6 he has already quoted the promise in regard to the order of Melchizedek, as the text of his farther teaching, but feels himself urged to interpose, and before repeating the quotation in ver. II, still more fully to unfold what the full meaning is of the blessed humiliation of the Son of God. He leads us in spirit down into Gethsemane, and speaks of the wondrous mystery of the agony there, as the last stage in the preparation and the perfecting of our High Priest for the work He came to do. Let us enter this holy place with hearts bowed under a consciousness of our ignorance, but thirsting to know something more of the great mystery of godliness, the Son of God become flesh for us.
Who in the days of His flesh. The word “flesh” points to human nature in the weakness which is the mark of its fallen state. When Jesus said to His disciples in that dark night, “Watch and pray; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” He spoke from personal experience. He had felt that it was not enough to have a right purpose, but that, unless the weakness of the flesh were upheld, or rather overcome, by power received in prayer from above, that weakness would so easily enter into temptation, and become sin. The days of His flesh, encompassed with its weaknesses, were to Him a terrible reality. lt was not to yield to this that He watched and prayed.
Who in the days of His flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of death, and having been heard for His godly fear, having gained the strength to surrender His will and fully accept the Father’s will, and the renewed assurance that He would be saved and raised out of it, though He was a Son,—the form of the expression implies that no one would have expected from the Son of God what is now to be said,—yet learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Gethsemane was the training-school where our High Priest, made like to us in all things, learnt His last and most difficult lesson of obedience through what He suffered.
Though He was a Son. As the Son of God, come from heaven, one would say that there could be no thought of His learning obedience. But so real was His emptying Himself of His life in glory, and so complete His entrance into all the conditions and likeness of our nature, that He did indeed need to learn obedience. This is of the very essence of the life of a reasonable creature, of man, that the life and the will he has received from God cannot be developed without the exercise of a self-determining power, without the voluntary giving up to God in all that He asks, even where it appears a sacrifice. The creature can only attain his perfection under a law of growth, of trial, and of development, in the overcoming of what is contrary to God’s will, and the assimilating of what that will reveals.
Of Jesus it is written: The child grew, and waxed strong, becoming full of wisdom. What is true of His childhood is true of His maturer years. At each stage of life He had to meet temptation, and overcome it; out of each victory He came with His will strengthened, and His power over the weakness of the flesh, and the danger of yielding to its desire for earthly good, or its fear of temporal evil, increased. In Gethsemane His trial and His obedience reached their consummation.
He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Suffering is something unnatural, the fruit of sin. God has made us for joy. He created us not only with the capacity, but the power of happiness, so that every breath and every healthy movement should be enjoyment. lt is natural to us, it was so to the Son of God, to fear and flee suffering. In this desire there is nothing sinful. It only becomes sinful where God would have us submit and suffer, and we refuse. This was the temptation of the power of darkness in Gethsemane—for Jesus to refuse the cup. ln His prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, Jesus maintained His allegiance to God’s will: in wrestlings and bloody sweat He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The deepest suffering taught Him the highest lesson of obedience: when He had yielded His will and His life, His obedience was complete, and He Himself was perfected for evermore.
This is our High Priest. He knows what the weakness of the flesh is. He knows what it costs to conquer it, and how little we are able to do it. He lives in heaven, able to succour us; sympathising with our weaknesses; bearing gently with the ignorant and erring; a High Priest on the throne, that we may boldly draw nigh to find grace for timely help. He lives in heaven and in our heart, to impart to us His own spirit of obedience, so that His priesthood may bring us into the full enjoyment of all He Himself has and is.
1. Heard for His godly fear. How it becomes me then to pray in humble, holy reverence, that l may pray in His spirit, and be heard too for His godly fear. This was the very spirit of His prayer and obedience.
2. He learned obedience through suffering. Learn to loot upon and to welcome all suffering as God’s message to teach obedience.
3. He learned obedience: This was the path in which Christ was trained for His priesthood. This is the spirit and the power that filled Him for the throne of glory; the spirit and the power which alone can lift us there; the spirit and the power which our great High Priest can impart to us. Obedience is of the very essence of salvation. Whether we look at Christ being perfected personally, or at the merit that gave His death its value and saving power, or at the work wrought in us—obedience, the entrance into the will of God, is the very essence of salvation.
4. He learned obedience. Jesus was obedience embodied, obedience incarnate. l have only as much of Jesus in me as l have of the spirit of obedience.